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Cars represent a significant investment for most people, one that will require their time and money in the coming years.  And that will hopefully be many years, if you have been taught to take care of and hang on to your cars like I have.  It is nearly impossible to keep your car from ever needing to go to a mechanic due to accidents and complex part failure.  Fortunately, there are several specific ways that you can keep your car running smoothly all year.

The most frequent, and obvious, way to maintain your vehicle’s fluids is to change the oil.  Most cars should have their oil changed quarterly, that is, no less than four times a year.  Oil literally keeps your car running smoothly by lubricating many of the high speed and temperature parts of the engine.  Over time, the oil is depleted and becomes polluted with, among other things, bits of worn metal.  If you allow your car to run on less, dirty oil for too long, the engine endures unnecessary stress and heat in any number of places.  Changing the oil takes no more than 30 minutes in the garage, and only requires a few necessary tools:

  • A car jack
  • Jack stand
  • A socket wrench
  • Filter remover
  • Oil and filter (amount and type specified in the car manual)
  • Oil pan

If you plan on having your car for five or more years, then a minimal initial investment that these tools would require will quite easily pay for itself.  And, to make the job even easier, mechanics have posted how-to videos of all kinds on  There are a host of resources that make this simple job easy and safe to understand and accomplish.

Oil is not the only fluid that you need to keep an eye on, however.  There are three others that quite important to everyday driving.  Even though their levels should not change quickly, you will immediately know if they have dropped too low.  Respectively, they are antifreeze, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.

Antifreeze, usually mixed with water, keeps your engine from dangerously overheating.  Cars have a temperature gage behind the steering wheel for this very reason.  If the engine runs too hot it will suffer catastrophic damage, potentially catching fire or damaging itself to the point that it will no longer run.  Simply keeping your radiator well stocked easily gets around this hazard.

Brake fluid, quite intuitively, allows your brake pedal to control the brakes around your wheels.  If you enjoy stopping your car, it is imperative that you occasionally check the brake fluid levels.  Many professionals in the automotive industry recommend that brake fluids be flushed and replaced every 1-2 years to ensure their reliability.  Lastly, power steering fluid allows the driver to use the wheel to effortlessly turn the tires.  When the fluid has depleted or leaked out, the car becomes immensely difficult to steer and turn, instantly increasing the risk of an accident.  All three of these fluids can be checked by simply putting the hood up and looking at the containers (specific locations located in the car manual).

These little but important ways of keeping your car running well add up over time, keeping your car in good repair and saving you  money by reducing costly repairs and extending the life of your car.  It really is in your best interest to take some time and money now to avoid a big problem later.

Michael Cook has written articles on a variety of subjects, such as general car maintenance and health.  He also contributes to personal injury lawyer websites like these Madison car accident lawyers.